06/03/12 3:37 PM ET
Santana nearing return from concussion
By Jordan Bastian and Justin Albers / MLB.com
Santana has been on the seven-day concussion list since he took a foul tip off the mask on May 25 against the White Sox.
"I'm feeling a lot better," Santana said on Sunday. "I really want to play."
Indians manager Manny Acta indicated that Santana had passed the latest neurological test required by Major League Baseball on Saturday and doesn't expect him to need another exam. Santana caught a bullpen session before Sunday's game against the Twins and took batting practice in the indoor cage.
"He's doing well," Acta said. "We're very optimistic that we're going to have him for that Detroit series."
The three-game set with the Tigers begins Tuesday.
LaPorta hopes to stick with Indians
CLEVELAND -- Matt LaPorta hopes he is back in the big leagues to stay, but the Indians first baseman is also trying not to look too far ahead. For now, LaPorta is looking at his latest promotion to Cleveland simply as a chance to help out a team in contention.
"If it's two days, three days, a week, it doesn't matter," LaPorta said on Sunday afternoon. "I'm up here to hopefully help contribute to this ballclub and help this team out."
The Indians officially called LaPorta up from Triple-A Columbus prior to Sunday's game against the Twins, while outfielder Johnny Damon is away on paternity leave.
Damon is expected to rejoin the Tribe on Wednesday in Detroit, but LaPorta is not necessarily the player who will be sent packing upon his return.
That is an issue for another day.
Cleveland's challenge is getting LaPorta to carry his success at Columbus to the big-league stage. That has been a problem for the first baseman -- available for part-time outfield duty now as well -- since being acquired by the Indians in the July 2008 trade that sent ace C.C. Sabathia to the Brewers.
"They felt that he was doing the right thing over there," Indians manager Manny Acta said of LaPorta's progress at Triple-A. "He was having success and hitting mistakes whenever they made mistakes on him. But, we'll have to see how that translates up here."
On the season, the 27-year-old LaPorta was hitting .307 (51-for-166) with 14 home runs, eight doubles, 32 RBIs and a 1.007 OPS through 46 games for the Clippers. Over the course of LaPorta's career, though, he has hit .299 with a .964 OPS in the Minors, compared to .238 with a .701 OPS in three stints (2009-11) in the Majors with the Tribe.
Given LaPorta's lack of consistency in the big leagues, the Indians signed veteran first baseman Casey Kotchman to a one-year contract over the offseason.
"I kind of saw the writing on the wall at the time," LaPorta said.
LaPorta said a key for him now is not to pay attention to what is being written about him elsewhere.
"I think it's been a problem that I've had to overcome," LaPorta said. "I can't control what other people think and I can't control someone else's happiness. If they want to be upset about performance that I'm playing, sorry. It's something that over the year I've tried to get better at."
Kipnis making impact on the bases
CLEVELAND -- Jason Kipnis considers himself a student of the game, but the young Indians second baseman does not only study pitchers to help him in the batter's box. He also does so to help his game on the basepaths.
Kipnis' keen eye has helped him emerge as one of the American League's top base-stealers.
"As I become a smarter baserunner, the numbers will hopefully go up still," Kipnis said on Sunday. "You get to learn pitchers' tendencies. You learn their moves, when they like to pick off, when they like to go home.
"If you know a guy is a big curveball pitcher in certain counts or something like that, you can use that knowledge and try to steal on that pitch. You pick up little stuff as you go along."
Entering Sunday, Kipnis had 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts, putting him in a tie with White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza for the most thefts in the AL. The second baseman's early showing on the basepaths has been a welcomed aspect of the Tribe's offense.
"That's not something something that is planned," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Those guys have green lights. They'll have the red one when they show us that they're not capable of doing it. But as long as they have success and are doing it at the right time, they can steal 200 if they want to."
Or, maybe Kipnis can at least top 20 stolen bases. With nine home runs and 13 bags swiped heading into Sunday's action, the second baseman was more than on-pace for a 20-20 showing by season's end.
That is something only eight players have accomplished in the long, storied history of the Indians franchise. Grady Sizemore (four times), Joe Carter (three), Shin-Soo Choo (twice), Roberto Alomar (twice), Albert Belle, Matt Lawton, Bobby Bonds and Toby Harrah are the only players to turn in a 20-20 season in a Cleveland uniform.
Choo did it most recently in 2010 and Alomar (2001) was the last second baseman to do so.
"It's definitely something that I would like to achieve," Kipnis said. "I was a big base-stealer growing up -- high school, college. I don't know why, but when I got to the Minor Leagues and Major Leagues, I stopped stealing as much. It got away from me I guess.
"I think I was concentrating on defense, hitting, playing every day -- all the other stuff. Whatever it was, I stopped stealing. I'm happy that I'm getting back into it and making it part of my game again."
Before Saturday night's game, Indians reliever Tony Sipp had been dominant against left-handed hitters. The southpaw had allowed only five hits in 38 at-bats against lefties, an average of just .132 against him.
But Sipp (0-2, 6.86 ERA) gave up back-to-back hits to lefties on Saturday against the Twins, including a two-run homer to Joe Mauer in the seventh inning.
"We just have to continue to match him up," Acta said. "We're going to have to continue to bring him along and continue to throw him out there because he's been very good for us for the last couple of years and we need him."
Michael Brantley's single in the sixth inning on Sunday extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Over that stretch, Brantley has hit at a .370 (17-for-46) clip. Brantley's streak is the longest by an Indians batter since Trevor Crowe hit safely in 13 straight games in Sept. of 2010.
Reliever Scott Barnes pitched a perfect ninth inning on Saturday night, his second straight outing without allowing a hit since being called up from Triple-A Columbus last Wednesday.
Quote to note
"It's Triple-A. It's different than the big leagues. So we'll see what happens up here."
--LaPorta, on his success with Triple-A Columbus
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Justin Albers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.